Men's Swimming Upends Undefeated Navy

After beating Rutgers on Friday, Harvard takes down midshipmen

Meghan T. Purdy

Junior Geoff Rathgeber was one of three Harvard swimmers who won a pair of individual events in a dismantling of undefeated Navy.

The Harvard men’s swimming and diving team rang in the New Year with a bang, decisively defeating Rutgers and Navy on back-to-back days. Despite the fact that it had not competed in over a month, the Crimson showed no signs of rust in easily dispatching its opponents.


The Midshipmen came to Blodgett Pool on Saturday with a surprising 11-0 record, including a defeat of 2006 EISL Champion Princeton, but left with their first loss of the season. The Crimson (5-1, 4-1 Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League) won 13 of 16 events—including 13 of 14 races—in defeating league foe Navy.

Juniors Pat Quinn, Sam Wollner, and Geoff Rathgeber led the Crimson with two individual victories each. Harvard picked up points immediately, as it took first and third in the first race of the day, the 200 medley relay, and followed with the top two finishes in the 1,650-yard freestyle, which Wollner took for his first individual win of the day.

“We had a lot of guys winning close races, and in a dual meet that’s really the most important thing,” co-captain Jason Degnan-Rojeski said. “Everyone really stepped up and performed well. It’s been a tough week with coming back from break and going down to Rutgers, but everyone did very well with adversity.”

Freshman Alex Meyer received the honor of being named this year’s “Iron Man” by his teammates. Every year, one freshman is chosen based on several traits, such as dedication to the team, class leadership, and hard work, to swim every race in one meet. Meyer swam in every heat of every race Saturday, logging a total of 5,350 yards—the equivalent of around three miles—despite the fact that he has missed much of this year with illness.

“It’s one of the better Ironman performances I’ve seen,” Degnan-Rojeski said.

“To place in a few events is always great, but then when you’re competing in every one, it’s pretty remarkable,” Rathgeber said.


The Crimson traveled to New Jersey on Friday with less than a full team; 10 to 12 swimmers could not make the trip due to academic conflicts. Nevertheless, Harvard overpowered the Scarlet Knights, handing them a 171-125 loss.

The Crimson won 11 of 16 events, as co-captain Brian Fiske, junior Geoff Rathgeber, and sophomore Bill Jones each captured two individual wins. Rathgeber grabbed the 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley, while Degnan-Rojeski easily won the 100 backstroke, beating the second-place finisher by 1.68 seconds. Fiske nailed the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.

“Fiske swam really well,” Rathgeber said. “He had some great performances in the breastrokes; we needed someone to win those events.”

Freshman David Guernsey joined the winning column with a victory in the 50 free, and Dan Jones led a 1-2 finish in the 200 butterfly. Meyer notched a win in the 1,000 freestyle.

Harvard will not compete again until Jan. 26, when it will travel to take on league foe Brown.

“It can definitely be hard to focus on two meets against decent teams with all the academic commitments we have right now, but I think we handled it well,” Rathgeber said. “We’ve been training hard, doing distance work, and everyone is pretty tired right now. To win both meets is really good for us.”

—Staff writer Julie R. S. Fogarty can be reached at